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Chinese athletes ready for Asian Winter Games
   2017-02-18 07:55:41    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xie Cheng

The Chinese delegation to the Asian Winter Games arrives in Sapporo, Japan, on February 17, 2017, at the New Chitose Airport. [Photo: Xinhua/Jiang Wenyao]

The 8th Asian Winter Games get underway this Sunday, on February 19, in Sapporo, Japan, and run for a week.

236 Chinese athletes will compete in the Games and take part in all of the 64 events, and they have been training hard.

 

Chinese short track speed skaters, who captured 6 gold medals at the last two Winter Olympics, are believed to be strong medal contenders in Japan.

Skater Han Tianyu, who won the men's 1,500 meters at the 2016 world championships, says he is ready for the games.

"I hope I can bring out my best ability, and bring out my best records in practice, I'll try my best, and strive for best results," said Han.

Li Yan, head coach of the short track team, says China faces challenges from old rivals South Korea and an improving Japan and Kazakhstan.

China's 18-year-old Gao Tingyu, who put in a surprise performance and snatched silver at last year's ISU Speed Skating World Cup, has made improvements to his skates in the hope of bringing out a better performance.

"I am still breaking my new shoes and blades. It's new and different. So this could be a challenge. Seems nobody else makes changes before the big game. I am not nervous. I am relaxed in my mind, because I know the game counts the most," said Gao.

In figure skating, China is sending two pairs to strive for gold: Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao and Peng Cheng/Jin Yang.

The 20-year-old rising star Jin Boyang is also expected to clinch a men's singles medal.

Zhao Hongbo, the champion at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and now the national team coach for paired figure skating, says the two new couples are improving, and ready for the Games.

"We focus more on improving the quality and the wholesomeness of the performances. We have made significant progress this year," said Zhao.

The Chinese women's national ice hockey team is also ready for the games.

Coach Rick Seeley has been with the team every step of the way to prepare for the upcoming event.

"I think everyone thinks we should at least win a silver. I think the game against Kazakhstan, the second game is going to be very important, but obviously all the games are important, but I think we are capable of silver. But I think if we really bring our best game, anything can happen," said Rick.

This year's Asian Winter Games has attracted some 2,300 athletes from 31 countries and regions.

Gao Zhidan, head of the delegation, says China will take the Asian Winter Games as an opportunity to learn from neighbors and to make progress in many events where China has traditionally struggled, skiing in particular.

China has recently launched new national team programs in snow sports including the luge, bobsled, skeleton, ski jumping and Nordic combined, and has hired many foreign coaches.

Many teams have also been training abroad.

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